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Liliana Cavani was born in Carpi, in the province of Modena.
Her father was an architect from Mantua, and her mother was a keen cinemagoer, who would take her daughter to the cinema every Sunday.

She graduated in Ancient Literature from the University of Bologna in 1959.
While a student, together with a number of friends in Carpi she founded a film club, which allowed her both to see and to show films that would not otherwise have reached the town.

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